The Kremlin’s guide for covering an upcoming religious holiday instructs propagandists to push territorial claims to Ukraine and Poland
Meduza has obtained a copy of the Putin administration’s latest instructions for state-owned and pro-government news outlets. The document outlines exactly what the Kremlin wants its propaganda media to tell Russians about the upcoming anniversary of the “Baptism of Rus,” referring to the conversion of Kyivan Rus ruler Volodymyr the Great to Christianity in 988, which the country celebrates on July 28.
The guide tells journalists to refer to the event as a “key turning point in Russian history” and the “point of formation of Russia’s statehood.” It also instructs them to emphasize that having a “common faith” is what allowed the “East Slavic tribes” to become a “unified people.”
The document devotes particular attention to the “adversaries of Russia” that purportedly fought against Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine, Belarus, and Poland. In particular, it says that the “Polish kings planted Catholicism and Uniatism on the occupied native Russian territories in order to fracture and subjugate the people.”
Less than a week ago, Putin made similar territorial claims about Poland at a meeting of the Russian Security Council:
It was thanks to the Soviet Union, thanks to Stalin’s position, that Poland received significant tracts of land in the West, land that belonged to Germany. It’s true: the western territories of modern Poland were a gift from Stalin to the Poles. (Editor’s note: Putin chose not to mention that the USSR invaded Poland along with Germany in 1939.) Did our friends in Warsaw forget about this? We’ll remind them.
The propaganda guide is even more aggressive on the subject of Ukraine. Its authors refer to the Ukrainian government as an “apostate regime” that’s waging a war against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in order to “destroy the spiritual ties of brother nations.” The document does not mention that a Russian shelling attack in Odesa last week destroyed Ukraine’s historic Transfiguration Cathedral.
According to the guide, the only person who can rectify the situation facing Orthodox Christianity in Ukraine is, of course, Vladimir Putin. The propaganda media are tasked with explaining to Russians that their president can be credited with “restoring Russia’s role as the protector of the Orthodox faith”:
Today our country is battling a new satanic regime. The Kyiv regime is deliberately destroying Orthodox Christianity on the territory of Ukraine, applying direct pressure against priests and seizing churches. The Nazi satanists have entrenched themselves in the holy Russian city of Kyiv, where Rus was baptized. Russia has come to the defense of the Orthodox faith and is crushing neo-Nazis who worship the occult ideas of Hitler and Bandera on the front.
The document also credits Putin with “supporting the rebirth of Orthodoxy” and “restoring the church” in Russia. A source close to the Kremlin told Meduza that the guide’s emphasis on Putin himself is no coincidence, and that the Russian media will increasingly mention him by name in the coming months: “This is important for the electoral campaign. The president will be linked to every development, so that his name is constantly being heard.”